Posts by Mary Albee

166 – Mark Dunn: AKC Registration Trend Reversal|Pure Dog Talk


According to Mark Dunn, AKC Senior Vice President of Registration and Customer Development, more breeders are registering more dogs, reversing a 20-year downtrend.


The last four years have shown notable increases in the number of dogs registered.  Mark Dunn tells us that the number of litters registered and the number of people breeding dogs are also on the rise.

“…it says something about the role that AKC Breeders are playing in getting dogs into American homes. Which is really important to all of us, to be there for people who love dogs,” Dunn said

Good news on the overall increasing number of registrations is tempered somewhat by a different trend in the low-number breeds. Dunn notes that while the Top 10 breeds have been booming, the bottom 60 breeds are in decline or showing noteworthy reduction in registrations. Labrador Retrievers, for example, represent 15 percent of ALL dogs registered in more than 200 breeds.

Some of the lower registration breeds are new to AKC registration and working to improve their numbers, while other ancient breeds like Otterhounds and Dandie Dinmont Terriers struggle to maintain their popularity.

“I want to be there for parent clubs and provide any information or help those breeders need,” Dunn said.

The Breeder of Merit program was established seven years ago. Dunn believes it had a vital impact on these increasing registrations. Today, nearly a quarter of AKC registrations are produced by BOM approved breeders or those on that path, he noted.

Research indicates that Americans LOVE their dogs. Ninety million of them, in fact. With average lifespans, an estimated 8 million “replacement” dogs are required to meet the annual demand by dog owners in the US. Dunn says AKC breeders produce 1.3 million, with another several million available through shelter placement.


The low registration breeds are a popular topic in this area. Dunn noted that during his presentation to the AKC Delegate’s Parent Club committee, he was asked about marketing rare breeds to increase demand.

“The worst thing we can do is make a hard-to-find breed more popular,” Dunn said. “… if we simply try to market our way to success for particular breeds, we can create a real problem. …if we drive demand for a hard-to-find breed, someone is going to go try to fulfill that demand. Unfortunately, it might not be the parent club breeders and it might not be the people that are … most concerned about the proper stewardship of that breed.”

As registration and breeder numbers increase, Dunn advocates continuing the positive direction with specific actions, including education.

“So, what we saw last year,” Dunn said, “was a lot of growth in the number of people breeding that are not currently considered either commercial, by any definition. They only bred one litter with AKC. They’re very low volume. Maybe one or two litters tops. But they’re not currently on track to be a Breeder of Merit so they either have not finished dogs or they are not competing in conformation to any large extent. Now half of those breeders are very new. They’re either new as in last year was the first time they showed up on our radar. Or they’re new because they’ve shown up once or twice in the last two or three years. The real key is to bring those people in. To bring them along. And the way we do that is through education.”

Here at Pure Dog Talk, we’re happy to offer education to new and old alike!  Hope you enjoy my talk with Mark.

165 – Agility at 83 Years Young: Laurie Morrow|Pure Dog Talk


I talk to a lot of famous people on this show. People who have been around the block and have enormous resources of knowledge to share. But one of the things I find the most touching about the purebred dog fancy is that for every well-known name, there are dozens of folks who have worked long and hard, paid their dues, quietly succeeded in their chosen endeavors and just never got around to the fame and fortune part.


Laurie Morrow Trophy Room

Laurie Morrow Trophy Room


Laurie Hatcher Morrowis 83 years old. For 70 of those years she has been actively involved in one aspect or another of purebred dogs. As a young girl, she saved her allowance in order to buy the 1947 edition of the AKC Dog Book. And she studied it until she could recite all 114 breeds. And she decided that the Shetland Sheepdog was the breed for her. At 13 years old, she convinced her father to drop her off at Madison Square Garden for the day so she could watch Westminster Kennel Club.

“I look back on that and I think my god you’d be arrested for child abuse if you left your 13 year old daughter alone at the Garden (today),” Morrow said.

That day at the Garden, Morrow was given the name of a person who might hire her for summer help at their kennel. Little did she know the kennel would turn out to be one of the top Sheltie kennels in the country. She turned 14 the year she spent the summer with them.

“We played a game after dinner. I would go and bring a dog and they would be blindfolded and they could tell every dog in the kennel,” Morrow reminisced. “Eleanor taught me all my beginning obedience training and pretty soon I was doing all the training and it was just great fun and she was right there you know to correct me if I didn’t do it right.”

Morrow’s lifelong love affair with dogs grew from that summer on. Morrow tells the story that she literally broke up with her first true love because his business would have prevented her showing dogs.

Dog shows, breeding, obedience and now agility have kept Morrow busy her entire life. She handled professionally in and around Chicago. She had multiple top winning obedience High in Trial Shelties. She bred, owned and ran Vizsla’s in field trials, including a top winning National Field Champion. She now owns Miniature American Shepherds and started running them in agility at the age of 70.

Morrow is the poster child for all of us who love dogs, who have always had that passion, whose paths in life have more than once been directed or dictated by dogs.

“I just can’t imagine my life without a dog in it,” Morrow said.

Laurie Morrow

Laurie Morrow

164 – Busting the Genetic Testing Myths: Dr. Jerold Bell|Pure Dog Talk


Last week we talked with Dr. Marty Greer about health testing 101. This week we’re taking the graduate course in genetics with Dr. Jerold Bell from Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Bell has some serious myth busting going on in this discussion that I think our listeners are going to enjoy.


First of all, mixed breeds are not healthier than purebred dogs.

“The most frequent genetic disorders that we see in practice are seen equally between purebreds and mixed breeds,” Bell said.

Second, there is a heritability factor in many diseases we had not previously considered. Bell talks specifically about studiesindicating even something as seemingly obviously traumatic as cruciate ligament tears have a genetic component.

Third, all breeders should be health testing their dogs. The increasing number of DNA tests available enables breeds with simple recessive gene pairs creating disease to quickly and easily apply positive pressure to the pedigree. Breeding a quality carrier status animal to a clear, then breeding the resulting quality clear offspring, Bell said, will rapidly eliminate diseases such as a specific form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

“And that’s really the take home message for today,” Bell said. “Is that anyone that’s doing breeding must be doing breed specific genetic testing of the parents and if they’re not doing that then they should not be breeding. Then they are not an ethical breeder and not a health conscious breeder and there’s no place today for breeders that are not going to do that.”

Fourth, for complex inherited diseases, in which a combination of genes is causing a disease process to be expressed, the OFA/CHIC database offers the opportunity to research a “vertical pedigree” to study the incidence of disease in the entire family of the dogs being considered for breeding.


“So when you look up at dog’s web page on the OFA Website,” Bell said, “and this is Facebook for dogs, this is the dog’s own individual website. They can have their picture on there, it has all their information. It has all the information of the tests results from the parents from the siblings from the half siblings. … even in a normal individual that you’re looking at for breeding, if the parents or the parents’ siblings (indicate) more disease present, it tells you that you’re going to have a greater genetic load of liability genes for that particular disorder.”

Finally, using health testing *appropriately* is mission critical. Bell noted that breeders’ selection processes should emphasize only those diseases which are of concern within their respective breeds. He presented an outstanding webinar for the AKC Canine Health Foundation available here which goes in to even greater detail on this topic.

“…people might say that because (our dogs) purebred they have limited diversity and therefore they’re unhealthy,” Bell said. “And that is not true.’

We hope you enjoy this very rich conversation with Dr. Bell and are able to apply this knowledge in your own breeding programs.

Breeders’ Voice: Kristi Green – Knockout Chihuahuas

Breeders’ Voice:  Kristi Green—Knockout Chihuahuas A couple years ago, I interviewed and compiled a piece for As The Wheels Turn, my then-column in Best In Show Daily about the rising stars of the sport. This was my first encounter with today’s BV subject, Kristi Green of Knockout Chihuahuas in Bayfield, Colo. I was impressed then and…

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163 – Cannabis for Dogs?|Kari Taylor and Alternative Therapies|Pure Dog Talk

Cannabis for Dogs?


Cannabinoid compounds as alternative therapy for dogs is a growing area of interest. Kari Taylor talks with us today about exactly what medical marijuana and cannabinoids are, how they can help our dogs and answers the legal and safety questions many pet owners have.

The increasing use of medical marijuana and CBD compounds in human health has led naturally to potential uses in our pets. While anxiety and inflammation issues appear to be the primary uses to date, Taylor contends the therapy has many potential applications.

It is important to understand that CBD is derived from industrial hemp and therefore is legal in all states in the US. Medical marijuana, which may contain THC, the psychoactive component of the recreational drug, is legal in more than half the US.

Equally important to note, particularly in states where recreational marijuana use is legal, is that THC and the drug which makes a person “high” is dangerous, although generally not lethal, if ingested by dogs.


From Dogs Naturally Magazine’s article on the topic, “This article’s not about marijuana, but this is important information. With the legalization of marijuana in many places, poison control centers are hearing more and more about pets getting into their owners’ marijuana stash.

It may be hard to tell if your dog has the munchies (isn’t it a permanent condition in dogs?), but other side effects from marijuana can be quite severe, including lethargy, dilated pupils, drooling, being off balance, muscle twitching, vomiting, involuntary urination and even unconsciousness.

If this happens to your dog, take him to the vet immediately. He’ll need palliative support until the effects wear off.”


Taylor shares with our listeners excellent explanations and provides an understanding of how the cannabinoids work with the body to produce the reported results. She also reminds listeners to seek products that are sourced from plants grown without pesticides and to educate themselves as to the actual amount of active ingredient in the product they are purchasing.

“I have visited some of the top pet CBD sites and, in many cases, you can’t determine how many grams of CBD are in a treat or in the oil itself,” Taylor says. “In many cases they list the number of milligrams of hemp oil versus the number of milligrams of cannabinoids. Now, those are two different things. CBD is the actual compound that will trigger the receptors. Hemp oil is the synergistic blend of all constituents derived from the concentration of a hemp plant. So, when you’re using, say, hemp oil, you are getting a lot more of the original constituents that were with that plant, which is oftentimes very supportive in the absorption of the cannabinoids or the CBD itself. … All of our products are labeled by the number of cannabinoids that are present is what people are looking for. If you’re wanting to buy CBD oil, don’t you want to know how much CBD is in it?”


This is a cutting edge area of the pet health industry about which many of our listeners have expressed interest. Taylor’s useful information, case study examples and real world experience provide excellent applicable knowledge for all pet owners. We hope you enjoy today’s podcast!

List of links:





162 – Veterinary Voice: Health Testing 101 with Dr. Marty Greer



Dr. Marty Greer, DVM, JD returns to our Veterinary Voice series to talk about health testing for our breeding programs.

Using testing to improve our dogs’ overall health involves looking at both “phenotype” — diseases we can test for with xrays, blood or other physical exam — and “genotype” — those diseases identified by DNA testing.

Dr. Greer also provides some great input on the various DNA tests cropping up all around us. These tests, all spinning off from the identification of the canine genome, provide breeders, exhibitors and pet owners with a plethora of options for naming everything from the mixture of breeds in a shelter dog to the specific heritable genes for deadly diseases.

One of Greer’s primary points, which we’ll touch on again next week in our podcast with Dr. Jerold Bell, is that these health testing options provide breeders with the ability to *expand* their gene pools. Scientifically identifying a dog as a carrier and another as a non-carrier of a specific disease gene, for example, enables breeders to breed those two individuals with the assurance that none of the resulting progeny will be affected by the disease in question.

Many of our dogs are impacted by polygenic diseases, in other words something like hip dysplasia, for which there is no DNA test because it is predicated on more than one simple gene pair. Nonetheless, the future of breeding healthy dogs is made profoundly more “user friendly” with the available testing protocols for those who use them wisely.

“So, the tricky part, and I think the really hard part for people that as breeders are running these tests are for them to try and decide how to use that information in their breeding program,” Greer said. “… I see a lot of breeders who are so distraught about finding a genetic defect in their dog or in their line of dogs that they will throw out a whole line of dogs genetically. They will just stop breeding that whole line and it is narrowing and bottlenecking our gene pools even further than a lot of the breeds already are. So, we have to be really careful how we interpret and use those results.”


Greer goes on to discuss various health concerns and how those should apply to making breeding decisions.

“So, I tend to rank, personally, genetic diseases on a ranking of one, two and three, because you can’t treat them all the same,” Greer said. “So, things like an umbilical hernia, or an extra eyelash, you fix it once surgically, it is corrected.  …the reality of it is those are not life-threatening diseases … Ranked two are things like allergies and thyroid disease, which require chronic medications. They always have to be on medication for those diseases if they have them. … And then ranked three are the things that are life-threatening, life-altering, life-changing diseases, and those are arthritic changes like hip dysplasia, seizures that are life-threatening, and, frankly, bad temperament in my opinion has the same categorization because some of those dogs have such bad temperaments that they bite people and that’s life-changing, life-altering and life-threatening. … I want to kind of frame it so people understand that not all not genetic diseases are the same, not all should be treated equally, and we have to really be thoughtful about how we use this information in breeding programs.”

The judicious and thoughtful use of health testing results and criteria in breeding healthy dogs presents almost a continuum of application in Greer’s experience. Potentially unhealthy dogs with no testing on one end and dogs with extensive testing but a potentially limited gene pool which may entrench diseases at the other end of the spectrum.

“…the Dandie Dinmonts, the Otterhounds, these people with small gene pools can serve as models for other breeds,” Greer said, “because even Labradors and Golden Retrievers are narrowed pools compared to what we have seen in the past. So, absolutely we need to be looking at these kinds of opportunities to perpetuate our genetics and not breed ourselves into such a bad corner that we end up with everything having a genetic disorder that is insurmountable, because some of these diseases are pretty serious and they become very ubiquitous in a breed.”

161 – Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine on Judging Dogs as Breeding Stock|Pure Dog Talk

Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine


Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine was recently nominated for the third time as judge of the year by the ShowDog of the Year Committee.  A judge of four groups, Beisel-McIlwaine is well respected within the fancy for her over-arching mission to judge dogs as breeding stock. She’s judged the Garden, Montgomery and Great Western, as well as internationally. Her gentle hands on the dogs, discerning eye for a “good one” and her pleasant demeanor with exhibitors have made her a favorite.

Her first love, an Old English Sheepdog acquired after high school, eventually led Beisel-McIlwaine to work dog shows on weekends for Connie Gerstner (Miller). “I went to UWGreenBay. Eventually, I was going to classes less and less and dog shows more and more,” Beisel-McIlwaine said.

In the spring of 1977, at a local Wisconsin show, she encountered legendary dog man and Terrier handler George Ward. He was looking for full time help and Beisel-McIlwaine wanted to learn. “I never intending to be a professional handler, but I wanted to learn more about dogs and breedings. I fully intended to breed Old English Sheepdogs,” Beisel-McIlwaine said. She was impressed by the cleanliness and quality of his kennel and fell in love with Wire Fox Terriers. And, she says, she’s never looked back.

“It was great,” Beisel-McIlwaine said. “(Ward) had a special bond with the dogs. He said I was a great student because I didn’t have any bad habits to unlearn.

“I stayed until May 1980. George was not an easy person to work for. But I’m glad I learned terriers from him because I didn’t learn any short cuts. I don’t like to see terriers run in the ring. They’re not bred to be raced around the ring. To see proper movement, you need to see them at the right speed. I’m old school.


“George taught me three things when I first started working for him:

* never keep your hands in your pocket, it makes you look like you’re not serious

* never chew gum in the ring

* talk to the dogs in the ring, don’t let them think they’re in there alone…. I like to see kids in Juniors talking to dogs in the ring


“The kennels were clean. The dogs came first. We’d go to a show and if it was too hot, we went home. His clients understood that. Grooming and care of the dogs were number one.

He and Dick Cooper were good friends, so we were always set up together. I’d just sit there and soak up all the stories.

“I remember going to shows, playing cards and it was so much fun. I think we’re a little too stiff some times these days. You’ve gotta have a little fun. Maybe because of the PC attitude, we’ve taken some of the fun out of it.”

Peggy and Sandy Beisel-McIlwaine

Peggy and Sandy Beisel-McIlwaine


When Beisel-McIlwaine left Ward’s employ, she married Cairn Terrier fancier Sandy McIlwaine. Together their Foxairn dogs have “finished a multitude of Cairns” and 15 homebred Wires. Foxairn has twice produced the number-one Cairn in the country, one of whom was a two-time national-specialty winner. Peggy was handling professionally and Sandy managed the kennel and the kids. “He was the original Mr. Mom,” she noted.

As her children grew up, Beisel-McIlwaine wanted to spend more time with them and less time on the road. So, she quit handling and started judging. “Family comes first. We had a couple slim years. But I was fortunate and I got the whole terrier group.”


For our listeners who heard Dana Cline’s interview, Beisel-McIlwaine’s comments on what makes a great dog will begin to sound familiar.

“You have to have the type,” Beisel-McIlwaine said. “Annie Clark said from the best type you pick the best movement. What makes a dog great is the showmanship. Now, I don’t want a bloodhound showing like a fox terrier. I want a bloodhound to be a bloodhound. Showmanship and character has to go along with the breed. But, for me, to be great the dogs also have to be able to produce. I think what we’re doing is judging breeding stock. We’ve had lots of top winning dogs, but when they also produce other top quality specimens, that’s when I call them great.”


Beisel-McIlwaine strongly recommends Ric Beauchamp’s book “Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type” and understanding the five elements of type.

“Type is spelled out in the standard,” Beisel-McIlwaine. “There is only one correct type, but there are elements of style. If you took every Best in Show winning Wire Fox Terrier from the last 20 years and put them in the ring, you’d see big differences… Spot On, Dominator, Lonesome Dove, Special Edition… They are all so different.”


One of the lost arts of judging terriers, Beisel-McIlwaine contends, is sparring the dogs in the ring.

“(Sparring) is so important to do,” Beisel-McIlwaine said. “Especially when you have a nice group of terriers. It is NOT fighting, and not all breeds do it. It is showing the confidence. One of my favorite lines (from Wire Fox Terrier standard) is ‘on the tip toe of expectation.’ We want that fire. It’s trash talk, (the dog is saying) ‘I own this ring, I’m allowing you in this ring, but not for long’…

“Irish and Kerries are real tough…. they can set off real quick…. Cairns and Westies were bred to work together…but they won’t back down… Scotties want to do it all themselves.

“In (other countries) they won’t do it. It’s so frustrating. Instead of teaching people why we spar or dock or crop, we back down. We’re just saying, ’OK, it’s bad, we won’t do it anymore… you win.’ The Animal Rights people are taking control. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing two or three terriers standing their ground looking at each other, probably saying a few curse words and then walking away…

Beisel-McIlwaine worked with other judges at the Terrier Club of Michigan to create a “sparring seminar” that is available for purchase here. A discount is offered for judges who’d like to learn more about how to properly and safely spar dogs in their rings.


Finally, Beisel-McIlwaine gives encouragement and a caution to owner handlers.

“Nowadays (with all the shows) I don’t know when handlers have time to get dogs properly trimmed,” Beisel-McIlwain said. “Owner Handler dogs are often in better condition. I think Owner Handlers can do it.

“But I get offended when people say they can’t. That judges only put up Professional Handlers. I’m sure there are those that don’t have confidence and they put up Professional Handlers. But I don’t think it’s fair to say Owner Handlers can’t compete. I know they get discouraged. The Owner Handled series is popular, but it’s sad they even had to do it.

“(Unfortunately) people aren’t coming up and asking for help. (People) are in it for five years and get out because they know everything. Most people are more than willing to help people out. But you have to be brave enough to ask. We do want the sport to succeed. I’m a huge proponent of bench shows. I think it’s sad to see them dying out. We’d sit and listen to people. Go over dogs. They’d show you how to examine the dogs, what to look for. Today, half of the people don’t stay past 6-9 puppy dog if they don’t win.”

Peggy McIlwaine-Beisel



Art of Sparring

“The Art of Sparring Terriers” from the Terrier Club of Michigan

160 – Dr. Karen Overall: Temperament vs Genetics|Pure Dog Talk

Dr. Karen Overall


Dr. Karen Overall, Senior Research scientist at the University of Pennsylvania

Temperament in purebred dogs plays a vital part in how the dogs fit into their families and society. Along with that comes the inevitable nature vs nurture argument. In other words, does separation anxiety, for example, have a genetic basis or is it caused by well-intentioned but misguided owners.

According to Dr. Karen Overall, it’s some of each.

“It was a lot more complex than what we thought’”

Research in purpose bred working dogs indicates that genetics are responsible for 30 percent of a dog’s behavior, with environment, at some level, responsible for the rest.

“When you look at a pedigree, if 50 percent of dogs in that family line have a variant of a certain condition, the chances are that there’s a genetic contribution to that,” Overall said, “especially if that condition has been identified in another species, if that model exists, chances are that pedigree is representative of an increased risk that’s genetic.”


Overall’s work is the baseline for many in the field of behavioral medicine. Her books and protocols are used in clinics around the country. But she describes her work here as sort of an “accidental tourist.” She planned to work in strictly research until a residency in behavioral medicine introduced her to a dog who couldn’t quite spinning… for two and a half hours.

“That dog said to me, whoa, this is interesting, this looks like human OCD,” Overall said. “There’s a good chance it has a genetic basis. There are a number of clear cut behavioral concerns that look to have genetic predispositions.”

Overall has dedicated her career to researching and teaching owners of pets with behavior issues. “Education may not work, may not take,” Overall said. “But that doesn’t give you the option to not do it. Without it, guaranteed, what you have is ignorance.”


This dedication to behavior medicine has paid off for Overall. She has developed and promotes protocols which help clients address and overcome with behavior modification. And she has identified seven “risk genes” that approach significance in the field.

In all the instances Overall discusses, the genetic basis is polygenic and influenced by the environment. And she notes that frequently the phenotypical disease is not actually expressed due to the dog not experiencing a triggering environment.

“I think they’ll put it on my tombstone, ‘It was a lot more complex than what we thought”.

She added that many of what we as breeders and owners identify as behavioral issues are linked with performance and the jobs the dogs were designed to do.

“In those cases, there has been selection for the job, selection against the extremes of pathology, but not that midrange,” Overall noted. “There has been no ‘cost’ to enhancing the behavior.”


Amongst the tools Overall has provided to owners and breeders is this type of protocol for creating a “relaxed” dog in various situations. Please investigate the various links for more information on her amazing work. Enjoy today’s conversation, with valuable insight from one of the country’s foremost practitioners in behavioral medicine and research.

Breeders’ Voice: Jere Marder – Lambluv Old English Sheepdogs

Jere Marder’s world renowned Lambluv Old English Sheepdogs are the result of a Christmas gift from her husband that has kept on giving for more than 40 years. For years she managed a successful breeding and show program from a condo near Chicago. But before that, she choreographed school musicals and taught at her own dance studio in the city. Lambluv dogs have reached #1 in both the Working group and since it was split in the Herding group. The first few were shown by local professional handler, Jack Funk, but since then, Jere has taken over the leash and her top specials are exclusively breeder-owner handled.

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